May 19, 2005

Announcing the 60 Second Story Competition

by Scott Rettberg · , 10:52 pm

We need more stories in our lives, yet we don’t have much time for them. Most digital cameras and webcams allow you to take one minute of video and audio at resolutions suitable for the web. The solution: 60 second stories, of course.

We are pleased to announce the 60 second story competition. 60 second stories are works of fiction recorded by their authors as digital videos, less than one minute in duration. Files size must be less than 5MB, and work must be submitted under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license. Entries are being accepted from now until June 8th, 2005.

There will one grand-prize winner, who will recieve a one-minute supply of exotic chocolate, a one inch by one inch book of the winning work published by Spineless Books, and other one-minute pleasures. The winner and fourteen runners-up will be published in the “Fifteen Minutes of Fame,” a permanent web shrine to the 60 second story form. The judges of the competition include internet writers William Gillespie, Nick Montfort, Scott Rettberg, Dirk Stratton, Jill Walker and Rob Wittig.

See for the details, to watch some 60 second stories, and to submit your own.

13 Responses to “Announcing the 60 Second Story Competition”

  1. Aaron Says:

    Why do we need more stories in our lives? Don’t we already have ample access to movies, games, books, television, magazines, newspaper, webjournals and flash, theater, puppet shories, storytelling, and mime? Oh, and conversation.

    I can see why we might want more stories in our lives, or better stories, or more interesting stories, etc.

  2. Aaron Says:

    Anyway, it sounds like a neat contest, I’m just being pedantic and nitpicky.

  3. nick Says:

    That’s okay. We need more pedants in our lives, too.

  4. Another Pedant Says:

    Apparently we also need more no-royalty stories too, huh? Why impose a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike on your entrants?

  5. scott Says:

    Because we need more stories in the Creative Commons too. If you’re seriously worried about the royalties on your one minute fiction, I suggest you submit it directly to the major presses, the big boys, the Random Houses, the Bertelsmanns. It must be pretty hot. Get your agent on the cell.

    The main idea here is to encourage people to create interesting little stories that they want to encourage other people to share, email, burn, whatever. We don’t particularly want to get involved agonizing over DRM. The idea is to spread interesting stories, not lock them down.

  6. Another Pedant Says:

    The question was meant as a provocation more than an objection. There seems to be an implicit and unspoken correlation between digital creativity and rights relinquising. Whether it is a good or a bad idea, this matter is due serious discussion rather than simplistic resign.

    Scott, your snide but expected conflation of rights, major presses, and DRM is a reductio ad absurdum. You know full well that there are actually many ways to manage “interesting little stories,” everything from bitpass to online exhibitions. It’s not the matter of the money I would object to, but rather your requirement that participation in this competition with no reward, whether it be monetary, exhibition, or career-building, should have the right to enforce your own agenda on copyright politics.

  7. noah Says:

    Another Pedant – I’m curious, why do you post this anonymously?

  8. fortunato Says:

    I think is a neat idea, I find it just blissfull

    We have an entry in the contest at , a first attempt, take a peek too

  9. nick Says:

    Noah, I don’t know AP’s reasons for anonymity, but someone who is thinking about entering a contest and wants to argue about the rules certainly should be able to do so on here anonymously.

    fortunato, all right! More contagion.

    Another Pedant, I didn’t think Scott’s reply was really that inappropriate, given your original questions. If you’d now like to have a serious discussion, let’s.

    If I offer to take you to lunch and buy you a sandwich, I’m not enforcing a sandwich on you. You can simply not go to lunch with me. This contest does not “enforce” a license on anyone. People can choose to enter or not. If they don’t want to enter, they can still create 60-second stories and show them off somewhere else.

    Many contests require that entries licensed in some way; usually it’s in a restrictive way that gives the company hosting the content rights to things. This contest requires a license that makes work available to the public, a license that I think is good for many things, including one-minute videos taken on webcams of people telling stories.

    If you dislike the CC licenses, discuss. But if you think that Scott setting the rules and terms of his contest in the way he believes is right (and my agreeing to judge a contest that has rules and conditions that I like) is somehow outrageous, I’m not sure what more I can say to that.

  10. scott Says:


    Forgive the reductio. But I can’t see how a submission of a 60 second story in this competition isn’t as good a form of “career-building” or “exhibition” as you could presently expect from any publication of a story in this form. Perhaps there will be a groundswell of interest in the form such that a market would exist for a bitpass, etc. system. For now though, I’d rather see 60 second stories flowing around the internet unimpeded by market forces. And frankly, I think there is a connection between not creativity in general, but more specifically between encouraging the adoption and distribution of new narrative forms on the internet, and choosing alternatives to the current copyright regime.

    Having said that, if you’ll write one, I’d be happy to post a link to your story on the 60 second story site, with a note that it was not entered in the competition due to your objection to relinquishing copyright. That way, your work could be exhibited along with the others, though you would not win the chocolate. Have you created one, or are your objections purely theoretical?

  11. kari Says:

    On the CC license: I’d just point out, too, the irony of imposing stringent DRM on a *contagious* media project. Viral art demands an economy of proliferation, not of scarcity. I see the CC license as of a piece with the larger theme.

    Great contest!

  12. scott Says:


    Thanks! I agree completely. Any way we could talk you and Matt into whipping up a story or two? We need some Maryland contagion in there.


  13. Matt K. Says:


    On the way, actually . . .

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